Salads etc. The Israeli Salad  Eggplant  Tahini  Hummus  Meze 
The Street and the Market Falafel  Shawarma  Shakshuka  Pita, Laffa and Lahukh  Jerusalem Mixed Grill  Jerusalem Bagel  Bourekas  Malabi 
Simple Pleasures Soups  Couscous  Rice  Ptitim  Fish  Chicken  Stuffed Vegetables 
Grill Pargiyot, Kebab and More
Shabbat Challah  Chicken Soup  Chopped Liver  Hamin  A Cake for Shabbat 
Holidays Rosh Hashanah  Hanukka  Tu bi’Shvat  Passover  Shavuot  Ramaddan 
62 100 138 158 176 216 218 282
The Israeli Breakfast Olive Oil − The Soul of the Mediterranean Fishing in Israel Bread − From Standard to Sourdough Fruits of Paradise Coffee Cheese − Between White, Yellow and Salty Wine Fever in the Holy Land
293 296 300
Special Ingredients Basic Recipes Index
What’s cooking in the melting pot? with local ingredients, they embellish their menus with dishes adapted from their family heritage, be it Moroccan, Persian, Hungarian or Turkish. In less than thirty years Israeli society has graduated from Spartan austerity to a true gastronomic haven. The Roots Israel is a young state but its roots go back thousands of years. The first place to look for the origins of local food culture is the Bible. Right from the outset, in Genesis, the Bible is brimming with food, used for welcoming friends and appeasing enemies, for seduction and bribery, for comfort and religious rituals. Food (or the lack of it) often played a pivotal role in Jewish history, such as when famine in Canaan drove the Hebrews down to Egypt. But what exactly was this food? What was the red stew for which Esau sold his birthright to Jacob? What were the mysterious flagons that Shulamite, beloved of King Solomon, craved in the Song of Songs? What was the magical manna that sustained the Hebrews in the desert? Scientific research has few definite answers and plenty of suppositions. There was a clear distinction in ancient Israel between two rival societies: shepherds and farmers. The former were nomads who roved the desert with their herds, the latter were permanent dwellers in the mountains and valleys and on the plains. The first hint of their age-old animosity was recorded in the story of Cain (the shepherd) and Abel (the farmer). Ancient Palestine was a harsh place to grow food, with poor soil and unpredictable rainfall that often resulted in drought and famine. Meat, especially prevalent in shepherd tribes, was a luxury enjoyed by the wealthy or reserved for feasts. It usually came from goats and sheep. The mainstay of the diet was grains and legumes (broad beans and lentils). Simple flatbreads were prepared from wheat or barley and baked on hot stones over fire by the nomadic shepherds, while farmers favored leavened breads. Grains were also toasted, cracked and used for stews and porridges, similarly to modern-day bulgur. Milk, usually goat and sheep, was used to make butter, cheese and sour-milk products. Vegetables such as turnips, leeks and cucumbers were eaten raw or cooked, although a vegetable garden required irrigation and was considered a luxury. Wild herbs (parsley, coriander, mustard, garlic and hyssop) were used to enrich and spice up food. ›
They say nobody comes to Israel for the food. There are so many reasons to visit this unique land, food is certainly not at the top of the list. Twenty to thirty years ago the only memorable culinary experiences tourists might have had was a good hummus in the Old City of Jerusalem or a hearty Israeli breakfast at a hotel. If they come back today they’re in for a big surprise. They can savor world-class wines, sip a perfect cup of cappuccino at a seaside café, nibble delectable goat cheeses at a dairy farm in the Galilee, and sample authentic and varied street food. They can wander through open-air markets brimming with fresh produce and exotic goods by day and hang out at trendy bars by night. They can buy almost any conceivable ingredient anywhere in the country, find a vast array of Hebrew language cookbooks in the bookstores, and have a choice of food shows and cooking classes given by professional chefs and amateur food and wine aficionados. Above all, they will discover a vibrant sophisticated restaurant scene where young, internationally trained chefs fuse classic cooking techniques with those of the Middle East. Working 6
The main source of sweetness was fruit: pomegranates, figs, dates, grapes, pears, quince and apricots. Dates, figs and grapes were dried and used to make molasses. Wild bee honey is mentioned several times in the Bible, but many scholars believe that “honey” (dvash) in the “Land of Milk and Honey” refers to date molasses, currently called silan. Olive oil was of paramount importance − used for cooking and dressing food, for lighting, in cosmetics and in religious rituals. Last but not least − wine. Consumed daily, mixed with water and often spiced, the elixir of love and deceit, wine became an integral part of Jewish life and worship. Here again one can see the schism between shepherds and farmers: the shepherds shunned wine, considered a typical part of the diet of the rival peasant tribes. The Diaspora What became known as Jewish cuisine, or rather Jewish cuisines, bears little resemblance to the Biblical legacy. They evolved during two thousand years in the Diaspora that began when the Jews were exiled from the Land of Israel in the first centuries AD and scattered far and wide. Jewish communities maintained autonomous lifestyles but were deeply influenced by the foods and cooking of the cultures in which they lived. Jewish Moroccan cuisine closely resembles that of Muslim Moroccans, and Jewish Polish cooking is not that different from that of their non-Jewish neighbors. The differences arose from the laws of kashrut that shun certain foodstuffs (seafood, pork) and forbid the mixing of dairy and meat. The law that prohibits work on the Sabbath (Shabbat) led to the creation of casseroles that cook on residual heat lit before the Sabbath. Gefilte fish was devised so fish could be eaten without the need to remove bones − considered work and therefore prohibited on Shabbat. But Shabbat was not just about prohibitions, it was the day on which even the poorest indulged in a good meal, even if it meant doing without for the rest of the week. Even more colorful and varied is Jewish holiday cooking. A festive meal is often the culmination of religious celebrations, be it the ritual Passover Seder, a New Year’s eve (Rosh Hashanah) dinner, or a meal taken in a makeshift hut during the week-long Feast of the Tabernacles (Sukkot). Deep-fried sweetmeats commemorate the miracle of oil at Hanukkah, honey-laden, caramelized meat and vegetable dishes celebrate Rosh Hashanah, lamb casseroles announce Passover... the variety is endless, with every community giving its own interpretation of the festive menu. One cannot discuss Jewish food without addressing the different worlds of Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews. What
Jerusalem: From Middle Eastern sweets, to authentic market eateries − a wealth of culinary traditions of the ancient capital
Sephardic communities that arrived in Jerusalem as early as the 17th Century preserved dishes originating in Spain and enhanced them with influences from the Ottoman kitchen, creating what is known today as Jerusalem Cuisine.
The Israeli Salad Take a few cucumbers, some firm ripe tomatoes, an onion and a couple of sweet red peppers. The proper Israeli way is to dice everything fine and neat (dak-dak, very fine, or
katan-katan, very small), but coarsely cut chunks will do just fine. Add some fresh herbs like chopped parsley, coriander, chives, spring onions, or even chopped mint if you are feeling adventurous. Squeeze lemon juice, sprinkle virgin olive oil, season with salt and ground black pepper, toss everything together and serve. There you have it, the Israeli Salad: healthy, wholesome, simple and delicious. A fine dish to be sure, but what is so characteristically Israeli about it? Similar salads are served all over the Eastern Mediterranean, from Greece to Lebanon.
somewhat neglected Israeli ritual consists of a light summer
In fact, most Israeli restaurants call this Arab Salad, which is
supper on the balcony, in the evening breeze. Invariably,
probably more accurate.
the centerpiece is a huge bowl of freshly made, finely diced
The answer must be that most of us simply cannot do
vegetable salad with an omelet, fresh white cheese (gvina
without it. Israelis insist on a salad with almost every meal.
levana), and soft white bread (preferably challah) to mop up
At breakfast they will go to great lengths to prepare their
the delicious juices left at the bottom of the bowl.
salad just right to have with scrambled or fried eggs, green
The secret to a great Israeli salad is no secret at all: choose
olives and cottage cheese. At lunch it is the natural side
ripe and flavorful vegetables, make sure they are room
dish, whatever the main course. Even if you are having your
temperature (refrigeration dulls their flavor), use a very
lunch on the go, stuffed in a pita, the salad goes in there
sharp knife to avoid crushing or mashing the vegetables,
too, along with French fries, in what is known locally as
season heartily and serve promptly.
chipsalat. Israelis will order a salad at a seaside restaurant
To perk up the flavor of your salad, sprinkle a dash of
with grilled fish, in a steak house with barbecued beef
ground cinnamon (yes!) in addition to salt and pepper, and
or chicken, and even as a snack at a fashionable cafĂŠ. A
add some diced fresh lemon. 20
Our Favorite Israeli Salad Make sure the vegetables are room temperature. If you keep your vegetables in the refrigerator, take them out half an hour before preparation. Ingredients (serves 2-4) 1 juicy lemon, halved 4 firm ripe tomatoes, diced 4 unpeeled cucumbers, diced 1 red onion, finely diced 1 sweet red pepper, seeded and diced 1 clove garlic, crushed 1/2 fresh hot green pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
Dash cinnamon 1 teaspoon sumac (optional) Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2-3 tablespoons parsley and/or coriander and/or mint leaves, chopped
1. Squeeze the juice of half the lemon. Remove the pips from the remaining half and peel the skin (including the white pulp). Chop finely. 2. Place the chopped lemon and the lemon juice in a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and toss. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately.
For a more delicate texture, use peeled tomatoes. With a sharp knife, nick the skin on the bottom of each tomato in the form of a cross, drop into boiling water for 30 seconds, remove and peel off the skins. Variations Take advantage of choice seasonal vegetables to make your salad even more wholesome: coarsely grated carrots, finely sliced cabbage (red or white), and chopped young radishes, fennel bulbs, spring onions and chives.
the street and the market
Open Air Markets Israel is part of the Middle East, and in the Middle East the
accordingly, from budget clothes to organic herbs, from
open-air market, also known as the souk, is one of the most
boutique cheeses to exotic products from the Far East.
popular forms of commerce. Even today when supermarkets
Mahane-Yehuda is Jerusalem to the core. Shoppers and
are preferred for everyday shopping, the souk retains its
vendors have known each other for years. There are fewer
charm and attracts both shoppers and sightseers.
stalls with trendy fancy vegetables and a larger range
The open-air markets are first and foremost food markets. As
of authentic balladi produce. Most of the shoppers are
such, they are intimately tied to local cuisine. Housewives,
housewives, mainly Sephardic, and the vast majority of the
chefs and restaurant owners, locals and tourists all flock
goods are strictly kosher.
to the stands in search of fresh produce and other food
Other prominent food markets are the Hatikva Market
products. As markets evolve into tourist attractions, many
in south Tel Aviv, the Bukharian Market in Jerusalem, the
stands are adding ready-to-eat street food to their usual
markets in Netanya, Hadera, Rosh-Ha’ayin and Haifa, and
offerings, giving visitors a taste of the local fare.
the Bedouin Market in Be’er-Sheva. When visiting northern
Produce is fresh and accessible and you can touch and
Israel you shouldn’t miss souks in Nazareth and Old Acre,
select fruits and vegetables at your leisure. Butchers offer
both brimming with exotic goods and flavors of the Middle
freshly-slaughtered chickens, complete with feet, feathers
East. And of course there is the Old City of Jerusalem with
and cockscombs. Fishmongers will net the carp you point to
its huge rambling bazaar that covers a sizable portion of
in a tank, and gut and clean it for you. Prices are negotiable
the ancient quarters. One can easily get lost in its winding
and haggling is the norm. Vendors often employ funny songs
alleys − the scenery, the atmosphere and the goods change
and other theatrics to promote their goods. The atmosphere
as you move from the butchers market to the perfumes, the
is dense, casually familiar, cheerful and noisy, with added
goldsmiths, the leather workers, the food.
urgency as the weekend draws near.
Another souk worth visiting is the Lewinski Market in south
Most markets are permanent and offer a wide range of
Tel Aviv. No longer confined to its original building, it has
goods: from fresh produce to illegally-copied DVDs, from
spilled over into nearby streets with exotic spices, dried fruits,
inexpensive textiles to fresh fish and poultry, from household
legumes, nuts, rice and pasta, smoked, pickled and dried
goods to flowers, from wallets to freshly baked breads.
fish, olives, pickles, oils, and ethnic pastries. Foodies and
The two most picturesque general markets are the Carmel
chefs come here to buy Greek olives, real lakerda (Turkish
Market in Tel Aviv (founded in 1927) and Mahane-Yehuda in
pickled fish), dried Persian lemons and rare condiments.
Jerusalem (founded in 1928). Both are primarily food markets
Finally, there are the roving markets that operate at a different
with the emphasis on fresh produce, and yet each reflects
venue each day of the week. A prominent example is the
the unique character of its city. The clientele of the Carmel
Ramla-Lod market. Once a popular local market in Ramla, it
Market is a heady mix of sophisticated urban types, foreign
can now be found at a different announced location each
workers (mainly from Southeast Asia), new immigrants
weekday. A lovely market operates on weekends in Ma’alot
(mostly from the former Soviet Union), and inhabitants of
Tarshicha in the Western Galilee, amicably shared by Arab
the neighboring Yemenite Quarter. The offerings range,
and Jewish vendors and farmers.
Prices are negotiable and haggling is the norm. Vendors often employ funny songs and other theatrics to promote their goods. The atmosphere is dense, casually familiar, cheerful and noisy, with added urgency as the weekend draws near.
the street and the market
Shakshuka Shakshuka is one of those dishes you can make even when your refrigerator appears to be empty. Now enjoyed all day long, this dish of Lybian origin began as a sumptuous workingman’s dawn-till-noon meal. It has three mandatory ingredients: tomatoes, hot sauce and eggs. Anything else is open for debate, Israeli style. The most popular ingredients are onions, red peppers, leeks, potatoes, sausages and kernel corn. Served in the same frying pan it is cooked in, with coarsely sliced, soft white bread and a salad, shakshuka makes for a hearty meal. Extra bread is always welcome to mop up the sauce.
Tips For Perfect Shakshuka Cooking Utensil Use a heavy deep skillet or a large
Important! Make sure the tomato sauce is cooked and fully
shallow saucepan. Make sure the lid has a valve to provide an outlet for the steam. Tomatoes Shakshuka devotées insist on fresh tomatoes for the sauce, but canned tomatoes (crushed or diced) and tomato paste are just as good. Spices Filfel chuma (a North African hot sauce containing garlic, paprika and hot peppers) is the preferred seasoning, but cayenne pepper, Yemenite zhug or harissa may be used as well. In any case − the sauce must be very spicy!
seasoned before you add the eggs. Once they're in the pan you can’t stir the sauce or adjust the seasoning. Handling the Eggs The objective here is perfect, unbroken poached eggs topping the tomato sauce. To prevent broken yolks, carefully break each egg into a bowl and slide it onto the tomato sauce. If you are cooking a mega-shakshuka, use a wooden spoon to make small wells in the sauce and pour one egg into each one to ensure everybody gets a fair share.
Doctor Shakshuka, Jaffa
This bustling cavernous restaurant filled with items from the nearby flea market is popular with locals and tourists alike. Spicy shakshuka served in a skillet is the signature dish, but couscous, mafroum and chreime are also worth trying.
the street and the market
Shakshuka − Basic Recipe This is the basic version found in most workers’ kitchens. See more elaborate versions below. Ingredients (serves 4) 4 tablespoons oil, for frying 2 cloves garlic, crushed 5 large tomatoes, peeled and diced (or 11/2 cups canned tomatoes, crushed 1 tablespoon zhug (p. 298), filfel chuma (p. 296) or harissa (p. 298) or a mixture of crushed garlic, paprika and hot peppers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional) Pinch of ground caraway (optional) 2 tablespoons tomato paste 8 eggs
1. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet and lightly fry the garlic. Add the tomatoes and seasonings and cook for 15-20 minutes over low heat, partly covered. 2. Add the tomato paste, cover and simmer for a few more minutes. Adjust the seasoning − the sauce should have a strong, piquant flavor. 3. Break the eggs one by one and slide onto the tomato sauce, arranging the yolks around the pan. 4. Turn heat to low and cook until the egg whites set (about 5-7 minutes). Partly cover the pan to prevent the sauce from spraying around the kitchen. Cover completely if you like your eggs “over hard”.
Shakshuka with Onions and Peppers Slice one onion and two sweet red peppers and fry lightly. Add the garlic and tomatoes and continue according to the basic recipe. Shakshuka with Sausages Lightly fry sliced merguez sausages or small cocktail sausages, or grill the sausages first and then add them to the pan. Add the garlic and tomatoes and continue according to the basic recipe. Israeli Army Shakshuka This version utilizes two canned staples usually found in army kitchens and combat rations: kernel corn and baked beans. Lightly fry diced onions, peppers, garlic and sausages. Add the drained kernel corn, the baked beans and the tomatoes and continue according to the basic recipe.
Fruits of Paradise Everyone knows that eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge brought about the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. But what exactly was that fateful fruit? Western tradition says it was the apple. Other theories mention a fig − luscious and sexy, it would definitely fill the bill, as would a pomegranate, which looks like a treasure box laden with precious stones, or a date with its sleek skin and honey-sweet flesh. All these contenders for the “fruit of paradise” and many more flourish in Israel. Some are relative newcomers, others have been around since the dawn of civilization. Carbonized remains of figs almost 11,500 years old were recently excavated by archeologists near the town or Jericho, making them the oldest known domesticated crop. Israel is a tiny country but a long and narrow one with a variety of topographies and climates. The fruit bounty is accordingly diverse. Apples, cherries, plums, nectarines and other deciduous fruit trees as well as berries (a recent addition) prevail in the cool mountainous Galilee and Golan Heights. Move 20-30 miles south and you reach Lake Kinneret (The Sea of Galilee) and the Jordan Valley where date palms reign supreme in the subtropical heat, with banana plantations a close second. Avocados and mangos also abound there as well as along the northern Mediterranean coastline. Farther to the south in the lower Galilee, with its softly rolling hills and relatively dry climate, olive and almond groves dot the Biblical landscape. The finest almonds in Israel are called Um-El-Fahem, and it is said that the best almond trees are
The finest almonds in Israel are called “Um-El-Fahem”, and it is said that the best almond trees are all children of one famous giant that still grows in the town of Um-El-Fahem in the Ara Valley.
Fruit picking season in northern Israel: dates and mangos from the Jordan Valley, apples and nectarines from the Golan Heights
all children of one famous giant that still grows in the town of Um-El-Fahem in the Ara Valley. Almond trees also abound in the Jerusalem mountains, their rose-white blossoms heralding the coming of Spring. The coastal plain and the Sharon region once looked like one huge citrus grove dotted with a few scattered settlements. Today, as the cost of land in central Israel sky-rockets, many of these groves are giving way to real estate ventures. But there are still plenty of pardesim (Hebrew for citrus groves), which in Spring fill the air with the intoxicating smell of orange blossoms, and in Winter look equally seductive, heavy with golden fruit, leaves shiny from the rain. Our journey continues south to the Lakhish Valley, home of plump juicy Lakhish table grapes, and on to the desert, once completely fruitless but today the site of cutting-edge agricultural research projects. The sweetest, most luscious cherry tomatoes are grown here, irrigated by water drawn from deep artesian wells. Apparently the salinity of the brackish water is responsible for the exceptional sweetness of the fruit. Most of these tomatoes are exported to Europe where they fetch a hefty price. And let’s not to forget the figs and the pomegranates, venerable members of the “Seven Species” club (along with dates, grapes, olives, wheat and barley). Both grow wild and domesticated all over the country. Pomegranates are currently enjoying a renaissance as the world discovers their healing properties and learns to enjoy their tangy charm. Another fruit in vogue is the persimmon. Israel is one of the biggest exporters of this ultra-sweet meaty fruit. Persimmon (afarsemon in Hebrew) is mentioned in Hebrew Scriptures in connection with perfumery in the ancient town of Jericho. But scientists tend to believe that the modern persimmon bears no connection to its ancient namesake. Last but not least is the prickly pear, which grows wild all across Israel. Its Hebrew name, tzabbar, became the nickname for native Israelis who, like the fruit, are prickly and rough on the outside, sweet and tender inside.
Israelis love their fruit. The average Israeli consumes 158 kilograms (over 300 pounds) of fruit every year. And thanks to the variety of climates and geography and the know-how spurred by economic necessity, they can enjoy an infinite variety of fresh fruits year round, at prices among the lowest in the Western world. More than 40 kinds of fruit are grown on a total of some 200,000 acres, mainly in the northern part of the country, giving an annual yield of 500,000 tons (excluding citrus). Since the beginning of the Zionist Enterprise, orchards and plantations have been a leading sector of agriculture in the Land of Israel. Visions of fruit orchards and profitable plantations in an arid land sometimes dictated the course of history for the fledgling settlement. Mulberry trees were planted in Palestine for the first time in the late 19th Century when Baron Rothschild’s advisors thought silk spinning mills could be a viable industry. The silk industry never took off, but old mulberry trees can still be found in many backyards. The Baron provided a livelihood for the settlers he brought from Europe to the area of Zichron Yacov by developing vineyards; the area still abounds in grape growing and wine production. Attempts to grow exotic tropical fruits like papaya, guava, lychee, feijoa, mango and anona date as far back as the 1930s. Many other European, tropical and subtropical fruits such as pineapple, blackberry, raspberry and cherry have been grown in Israel for many years. Israel today is a heavily industrialized, densely populated country, relying on export of sophisticated technology rather than avocados and oranges. Stiff competition in international markets combined with high labor and production costs create a harsh reality for the growers. Many choose to uproot the trees or sell the land. Others, more enterprising or more tenacious, invest in new varieties, seeking out niche markets for premium fruits, or combine agriculture with tourism. But the importance of agriculture always went beyond economics: the ideology was and is that only by working and sustaining the land does one earn the right to call it home. ›
can afford to take it easy. Friday can be a leisurely brunch with friends, reading the weekend papers in a cafĂŠ, or a shopping spree in a local market or mall followed by a long siesta. Typical Saturday pastimes may include an outing to the beach or a picnic in a pastoral setting, visiting relatives and friends, or attending a football match. And yet there is one institution sacred to the majority of Israelis, religious or otherwise: Friday night dinner. Families gather, usually at the home of parents or grandparents, and attendance is mandatory! Some families have alternative traditions like Saturday brunch or lunch, or on sunny days a cookout. Whatever the timing and the circumstances, the concept is the same: a good home-cooked meal providing a chance for everybody to meet, catch up on the latest news,
and give a big hug to the kids. Older "kids" already living on their own often leave with neatly packed leftovers that will last them for days.
Like any other Jewish holiday, Shabbat (Sabbath) starts at
Every family has its Shabbat favorites, many of which can
sundown the previous day. But the weekend mood sets in
be found in other chapters of this book. Here the emphasis
even earlier, on Friday morning, as everyone gears up for
is on classic Shabbat dishes: challah bread, chicken soup,
the commanded day of rest. In observant households Friday
chopped liver, hamin casseroles, and a selection of cakes.
is a race against the clock to finish shopping, cooking and
Cake-baking, another great local tradition, is especially
cleaning before sunset when all work must cease. Others
evident on the weekends.
Linder Bakery, Jerusalem
Situated in the ultra-orthodox Mea Shearim Quarter, this is one of the oldest bakeries in Jerusalem, with ovens dating back to the late 19th Century. This strictly kosher establishment bakes only challah bread and accordingly operates only before Shabbat âˆ’ from Thursday evening to Friday noon. Yeshivah students often stop by in the middle of the night to buy a loaf just out of the oven.
Chocolate and Halva Coffeecake Also known as babka or krantz, this old-world cake is a popular Shabbat offering in many households. The following version combines traditional chocolate filling and Middle Eastern halva, with an irresistible result. Strand halva is the most convenient to use for the filling but you can use regular halva (crumbled) as well. Another special ingredient is halva spread. Outside Israel it can be found in Middle Eastern groceries and kosher stores. If unavailable, prepare your own. Ingredients (for 2 loaf pans) The Dough: 560 g (1 lb 4 oz, 4 cups) bread flour 220 ml (8 oz, 1 cup less 1 tablespoon) water 50 g (2 oz) fresh yeast 100 g (31/2 oz, 1/2 cup) sugar Pinch of salt 1 egg 2 egg yolks 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Homemade Halva Spread Halva is sweetened tahini. Bring 200 ml (7 fl oz) of whipping cream to a boil. Pour over 200 g (7 oz) of chopped white chocolate. Wait for a minute and stir well until the chocolate dissolves. Add 200 g (7 oz) raw tahini and 1 4 cup water and mix thoroughly, to make a smooth spreadable paste.
100 g (31/2 oz) butter, softened The Chocolate-Halva Filling: 200 g (7 oz, 1 cup) halva spread 250 g (9 oz) strand or regular halva, crumbled 200 g (7 oz, 1 cup) chocolate chips Syrup (optional): 1 cup sugar 1 cup water
1. Prepare the dough: Place all ingredients except the butter in a mixer fitted with a kneading hook and knead for 7 minutes. Add butter and continue kneading for 5 minutes. The dough should be shiny and very soft. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover and allow to rise to twice the original size. 2. Prepare the cakes: Divide the dough in half and roll one piece on a well-floured surface to a 20x30 cm (9x12 inch) rectangle. 3. Spread the dough rectangle with a thin layer of halva spread. Sprinkle the strand or crumbled halva and chocolate chips and roll into a log. Slice the log lengthwise and braid the two pieces. Place in a loaf pan lined with baking paper and tuck in the edges of the cake so it fits snuggly into the pan. Repeat the process with the second piece of dough in the second pan. Allow to rise to twice the original size. 4. Preheat the oven to 180째C (350째F). 5. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes until deep golden-brown. 6. While the cakes are in the oven prepare the syrup: Bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. 7. Brush the hot cakes with the syrup. They will keep fresh wrapped in foil for 3-4 days and can also be frozen.